Just writing about nothing in particular

Sitting at the bar at Turtle Restaurant in the Lambert Beach Resort

This is one of the few times I am blessed to write a blog post on LISNews from another land. Right now I am trying to eat dinner at the Turtle Restaurant. It has been an interesting trip in and out of the British Virgin Islands. If anything I will spend more time airborne than I will on the islands.

Will LISTen happen this week? One way or another, yes. The dominant US-flagged air carrier out here is American Airlines and so far there have been only minimal flight disruptions. Saturday may be a different story.

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Parts and Equipment Wish List for LISTen

You can find the wish list for the LISTen team in terms of equipment purchases online.

That list contains some of the bigger pieces that we are seeking to acquire. Right now we do not have the funds to do such. Our top two priorities on the list are the Mac Mini and the Nokia N800. The Mac Mini would swap out for the studio computer that is frankly getting very flaky. This is not to say that this would replace the non-networked computer that recordings are made to. We need a computer that is somewhat more reliable for proceeding with Skype calls and other matters. The Nokia N800 would allow for field recordings to happen. I am still trying very, very, very hard to get things in order so I can get into ALA Annual. Unfortunately I have been waiting over a month to hear back from the ALA Public Information Office.

The LifeBook and the external Sony drive are lower priorities. While they would be nice they would not necessarily reduce some of the interesting issues that arise with the hardware we've got right now. The LifeBook would be a more technically capable alternative to the N800 for doing fieldwork in terms of carrying out interviews. The Sony drive would help allow us to be able to back up the show's archives.

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Inside a building in China

Want to see some architecture that is WOW?

Take a look:

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Choose Your Own Adventure Map

As requested, the text of the commentary from LISTen #10

Just as episodes of LISTen are not released under Creative Commons, neither are script texts. I try not to release such for multiple reasons. One of those reasons is that not releasing scrip texts help ensure you listen to the verbal delivery first. The rightsholder for the scripts and the episodes is Erie Looking Productions. In response to an inquiry received, the text of the most recent commentary script is posted here.

WARNING! This is a commentary. The views expressed in this particular segment do not necessarily reflect those of Erie Looking Productions, LISHost, or pretty much anyone besides myself for that matter.

While possibly not John N. Berry's intent, his recent piece on "Vanishing Librarians" has brought light on a symptom to a bigger issue. What are libraries? What are library values? Is there anything intrinsic in a library's value?

Have we lost our past? It seems that while we follow the zeitgeist, that is to say the spirit of the moment, we only chase the wind. In a time with ignorance on the rise, the choice to chase the wind has led to libraries trying in some respects to be all things to all people. In some ways we are not doing this well.

Although we have "foundations" classes in the MLS programs, what are indeed our foundations? Do we promote our foundations as being stability to a culture that seeks it or do we instead perpetuate the "Wizard vs. Muggle" scenario I have mentioned previously? For as closely tied as librarianship is to religion over the centuries, we end up facing much the same problems. People are seeking meaning. A problem facing so-called "megachurches" in the United States is that while they can get people in the door they have significant troubles retaining them. While we chase after the zeitgeist do we then provide merely an attraction to get people in the door without retention also occurring?

The problem in contextualization that Berry and Gorman seem to face is explaining that chasing the wind seeking to latch onto the next big thing can detract from philosophical purposes. Although they seem to only refer to libraries of yesteryear, that is the only reference point they have to a quality they perceive to be missing. In short, where has the magic of the library gone? The magic of the library, in this case, is being more than just a passing thing. People often seek substance but do not want to admit it.

Where does your library stand today? Is it an intellectual bedrock to help people build dreams and fuel imaginations? Or is it focused on glitz while not providing the fuel for imagination? In some respects our calling in librarianship is to open new worlds so that people might dare to dream. Chasing the wind is not a bad thing necessarily but is one part of a bigger whole that involves retention and more.

The Annoyed Librarian has similar thoughts that were posted right after the episode was posted. I should note that I am not the Annoyed Librarian. Both of us appear to be somewhat in agreement with John N. Berry.

Please do not skip through the podcast solely for a commentary by me. There are two fantastic interviews that present cataloging as something that is "fun". When laying out show order my usual goal is to keep commentaries towards the end. Commentaries will not be a regular feature on the podcast, though.

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Thoughts after a strange enough day

Today has been a sufficiently aggravating day. I should not focus on that, though. I should openly give thanks to Blake for adding new subscription buttons for the podcast. Such appears on every page and is as discrete as possible. After an exchange on Twitter earlier I thought it best to simplify things for folks. Blake and I were testing the e-mail subscription in the background for a while and I am happy to report that folks are already using that service. If that makes getting to the podcast easier for you, why not sign up? New e-mails come out only after I post an episode.

One of the big issues tonight is network connectivity. Cox high speed Internet has been anything but. Right now connection speeds are more akin to what I experienced while living in American Samoa. In that part of this country top speeds for an individual run around 24.4-33.0 kbps. For producing LISTen, this makes a huge difference.

As of late we have had to punt in terms of taking calls. Doing such requires Internet usage. Although a prepaid cellular telephone was obtained for use in taking calls we still do not have an adequate bridge to use audio from such. The funds are not on hand to build such and I do not want to go with any suction cup options at all.

Outages are strange things in the Las Vegas metro. I had a less than pleasant experience on the phone with customer service. Although I may be able to get this posted to LISNews the problem remains of having sufficient bandwidth to do interviews. The question on Wednesday around this is if service will be back up to par in time to use Skype for one or two interviews. Both interviews are on subjects that caught my interest.

Are there workarounds to this? I suppose so. The problem is cost. The only other viable option would be to secure a mobile broadband account with a wireless provider. Such would run USD$60 per month for a two year contract term. Right now that is not financially viable. While outsourcing the conduct of interviews to somebody else is possible the problem is getting such into editing. With Internet access being pretty heavily attenuated, how could I even receive such outsourced audio to edit in?

Right now I get to wait. It is all I can do. Hopefully this gets resolved by afternoon tomorrow. For now I get to wait.

What holds LISTen back in some respects? Funding is the key issue. The audio engineer has a regular job. I have as much work as I can get each week but hours have been declining heavily. The slightly unstable job I have is all I have as the gambling inherent in job hunting has not borne fruit yet. Outside the podcast I know I just had to pay out to replace tires on a vehicle due to an incident at the on-ramp from Russell onto the 515. Before upgrading hardware or software there are day to day living expenses that have to be handled.

An ideal scenario in LISTen evolution is for the podcast to be housed somewhere that it is part of the service of a parent institution. Examples of doing such would be creating a Center for New Media or other type unit in which the podcast is produced while teaching is provided in terms of production. We have been working on lesson plans and course outlines to offer such instruction. If a sufficient offer is made it will be considered. As long as Lake Effect Snow is not a local issue we are willing to consider locations. I must note as well that nothing says such work need necessarily remain within United States jurisdiction either.

I recognize that that ideal is not too likely. This is why the donation buttons always seem to pop up. This is why the Lulu web outlet was put together. If funds were obtained from those means I can rest easy in terms of money matters. Right now I am worried about going bald from tearing out hair over money matters. Relatively speaking it would be far cheaper for somebody to sponsor the podcast month by month rather than bringing us under an institution's umbrella. Bringing us under an institution's umbrella would cost around USD$60,000 to USD$70,000 in payroll. Sponsoring the podcast as constituted now would only run about USD$18,000 to USD$20,000. As counterintuitive as that appears, it actually would be cheaper if the production effort remains as presently constituted but with my being freed up to work on the podcast full-time. A podcast is a cost center that does not necessarily "monetize" by itself. In that respect, the seeking of donations and the sale of items through Lulu makes better sense right now compared to being under an institutional umbrella.

Wednesday is another day...

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Alternative means of getting LISTen

This form may help folks who want an e-mail whenever a new episode of LISTen is posted:

Enter your email address:

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A new way to support LISTen financially?

As a means of helping folks out who might want to support LISTen financially I took action. I have put together small items on Lulu. These item are reprints of two conference papers I have presented. The papers look at an intersection between library science and Christian life.

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Pondering Podcast Access -- A Conundrum I Have No Solution To

The Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science defines podcast as:
A digital media file (audio or video) syndicated over the Internet via an RSS feed. The author or host of a podcast is known as a podcaster. Once available online, podcasts can be downloaded for listening on portable media devices (MP3 players, pocket CDs, cell phones) and personal computers. Despite the similarity in name, listening to or watching a podcast does not require an iPod, although the device can be used for that purpose. Online directories of podcasts are usually browsable by subject and searchable by keyword(s) (examples: Podcast Alley,, and
This describes the program produced here in the Las Vegas metro. This also describes the method of normal distribution. Is this the normal means of accessing LISTen, though?

the much needed the.effing.librarian faq

Many people ask the.effing.librarian questions for advice, help or just to share his wealth of knowledge. This is his response:

I understand that you view me as an expert in most areas, but frankly, why should I share my expertise with you? I see no benefit to me. I'd love to help, but you see my dilemma.
So to head off some of those questions, I've created this Frequently Asked Questions section. I sincerely hope these answers help with what you were searching for, so that you will go away and leave me alone.

1. Are you really a librarian? I can't believe any school would give you a degree.

They didn't give it so much as I beat the Dean with my shoe until he loosed his grip enough for me to take it.

2. Who's your favorite author?

I devour everything I can find written by Gerald McVeney. Listen to this:
Set iron at recommended fabric setting.
Point arrow on spray button to red dot on can.
Shake well, before and during use.

That's for a can of spray starch, one of his early works. Gerald writes product label directions. Right now I'm in the middle of reading his directions for a can of Scrubbing Bubbles:
Won't scratch surfaces...leaves a brilliant shine!
Has a fresh, clean lemon scent.

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US Presidential Politics vs. LISTen

I have a wee bit to say relative to LISTen and US Presidential Politics.
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Considering an international reach

Considering the global reach of LISNews I figured it was probably best to put forward more button options. It finally hit me last night that folks outside the US would want to donate in their own local currency if they felt so moved. PayPal handles the currency conversions more cheaply than I can so due to infrastructure limits a slew of buttons is needed. Such is presented below. Donation button for US listeners:
Donation button for Canadian listeners:
Donation button for listeners in New Zealand:
Donation button for listeners in Australia:
Donation button for listeners in the UK:
Donation button for listeners in the Eurozone:
Way to subscribe to support the podcast for one year at USD$20 per month:
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LISTen Needs Your Help

LISTen is busy during its hiatus preparing to be even better. In terms of discussion after comments received we are trying to build in capacity to have guest appearances on the show without having to book a flight to Las Vegas. I wish this were an inexpensive matter but it is not. Right now I am robbing Peter to pay Paul relative to podcast production. To pay for upgrading hardware and initiating a new back-end service the funds outlay is US$125. The funds needed are broken down this way: US$50 - Parts to create a bridge to allow guests to be included in the recorded episode US$75 - Cost to set up for a continuing period access to Skype so that guests can just call in from Canada and not be hit with international phone call rates From the demographics survey and other response I know we have quite a bit of listeners in Canada. With SkypeIn we can set up a phone number to make calls cheaper rather than paying international rates. Access numbers could also be set up here in the United States and a few other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. When does the money need to be raised by? Thursday or Friday is when such needs to be on-hand. I wish I could truthfully say there is some other way to obtain the funds for this but I cannot. Every little bit helps. I am not asking for somebody to donate the whole $125 but will not turn such money away either. PayPal fees are fairly minimal with the way the account is set up. Paying for SkypeIn service establishment can be done directly from PayPal which eliminates a few steps for the team here. An e-mail sent to me at [email protected] may elicit a response via my Gmail account as to alternate ways to contribute too. Thanks for supporting an effort that so far has had no budget, few staff, and other constraints. It has not been easy but it has been great. Donation button for US listeners:
Donation button for Canadian listeners:
Donation button for listeners in New Zealand:

Who or what would you like to hear on the next episode of LISTen?

Although LISTen remains on hiatus work continues. There will not be an episode released on Monday. Right now the production team is doing work to make things even better. A question has arisen, though. We have learned from the demographics survey responses so far that quite a number of respondents serve in public libraries in reference capacities. This impacts how we start setting up shows. What sort of segments would be useful? Interviews with political leaders like Senator Harry Reid, a US Senator for Nevada as well as Senate Majority Leader? Interviews with leaders in technology inside and outside the world of librarianship? Field reports from other parts of the librarianship Anglosphere such as Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom? A weekly tech report contributed by a someone to be lined up? There are two ways you can make suggestions in this matter. The first is to write to the LISTen Production Team at [email protected]. The second is to leave a comment on this post. We cannot promise anything as to what will come of what is suggested. We have to consider what is realistic in terms of production complexity and financial limits. For now this remains a no-budget operation. Short term funding is sought to keep the host out of hock while issues persist at the host's present day job in terms of deepening cutbacks. Such donations to help during the short term are received using PayPal. Inquiries about other ways to give can also be received via e-mail. To the best of my understanding, PayPal handles currency conversions if you are located somewhere out the United States and feel moved to contribute. This might be important to the seemingly large population of listeners in Canada who might donate.
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"Who Are These People?"

With apologies to Jerry Seinfeld, I want to take a few moments to discuss what is coming for LISTen after this week's episode


Lacking a sufficient survey sample size

I have gotten a rather quite small amount of survey responses.
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LISten vs. ALA Step-by-Step Guide to Podcasting

I noticed this morning in the Twitter stream a series of posts from ALA Mid-Winter relative to a document giving a step-by-step guide to podcasting.

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LISten vs. Media Relations Folks: The Case of No Press Passes

Elsewhere the matter has been brought up about wanting original reporting in the podcast. That is a fair assertion. The trial season so far has not had any. That is not for a lack of trying, though.
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LISten Audio Engineer Elected To A Board of Directors

The audio engineer for LISten, Mike Kellat, was elected last night to the Board of Directors of the Guitar Society of Las Vegas. His term on the board is for one year. The association cannot necessarily underwrite LISten, alas, but does good work locally in teaching about music and keeping various styles alive.

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